Ruan Pienaar, Morne Steyn and Earl Rose are set to be the three flyhalves in the Springbok squad for the British and Irish Lions Test series, with Pienaar likely to fight off Steyn’s challenge for a starting spot.
A 28-man Bok squad will be announced tonight in Johannesburg, and despite Steyn displaying great form for the Bulls during their triumphant Super 14 campaign, Pienaar is the favourite to wear the No 10 jersey against the Lions.
Ashfak Mohamed reports for IOL that Springbok selection convener Peter Jooste told the Cape Times yesterday that while Steyn has “done well”, Pienaar is the incumbent Bok flyhalf.
“Morne has really done well for himself this season with the Bulls,” he said.
“He has come through the structures and represented junior national teams.”
“But Ruan is the man in position at the moment. Morne does have a different style to Ruan, and I read somewhere that (Bok coach) Peter de Villiers said Morne can make a difference, and I agree that he offers us that.”
Steyn would be desperately unlucky if he misses out on a Bok starting spot, as he showed this year that he has the ability to vary his game and mix it up, depending on the situation.
He is a superb kicker and good distributor of the ball, while he is also not shy to take the ball up himself.
He has finally come out of the Loftus shadow of Derick Hougaard and become the darling of Pretoria.
Steyn is also able to slot vital drop kicks at critical times, as he has shown at the Bulls recently, and he ended the Super 14 as the leading points-scorer with 191, 50 more than Chiefs pivot Stephen Donald. Steyn kicked a record 11 drop kicks this season.
Pienaar is a talented footballer and is skilful, but has been hampered by injury this season. His Super 14 campaign for the Sharks has been stop-start, so he has not been able to build up momentum and play himself into top form this year.
Rose reportedly performed well at flyhalf in the second half of the South African XV’s 36-7 victory over a Namibian Invitation XV in Windhoek last Friday.
Rose started at fullback and replaced Peter Grant at No 10 for the second half. Grant apparently did not impress in the first half, and is set to miss out on the Bok squad for the Lions series.
Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner is likely to edge out Stefan Terblanche for a place in the Bok squad and is set to start at No 15 in the Tests as well.
Utility back Francois Steyn has also recovered from injury and will be part of the Bok group named tonight, but he will provide cover for the entire backline.
Jooste said yesterday that Kirchner has improved immensely this season at the Bulls.
“Zane is a confident player. He can kick, run and pass well and is a well-rounded player,” he said.
“He’s got it as a player. The Super 14 is the closest level of play to Test rugby and he has done well there, so I think he can make it as a Test player.”
Jooste said that the 28-man squad will be used for all three Tests. “Those will be the guys for all three Tests, but because we are at home, we can call on any extra guys if the need arises,” he said.
Possible 28-man Springbok Squad
Zane Kirchner, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen, Adrian Jacobs, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Jongi Nokwe, Ruan Pienaar, Morne Steyn, Earl Rose, Fourie du Preez, Ricky Januarie, Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brussow, Danie Rossouw, Victor Matfield, Andries Bekker, Bakkies Botha, John Smit (capt), Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Beast Mtawarira, Gurthro Steenkamp.Tweet